Gay civil servant wins spousal benefits for husband in landmark court case

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia rally in Chater Square, in Hong Kong. May 17th, 2010. Photo (for illustration): Marco Repola via Flickr

In a rare win for Hong Kong’s LGBTQ community, a gay senior immigration officer has won the right to receive the same spousal benefits as his straight colleagues.

Leung Chun-kwong, who has worked in the Immigration Department for 13 years, today won an unprecedented legal challenge against the Civil Service Bureau (CSB), which had previously denied him the right to share his benefits with his husband, Scott Adams.

Leung, who married Adams in New Zealand three years ago, lodged a legal challenge against the secretary of the CSB and commissioner of the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) last year after he tried to update his marital status and was refused on the grounds that Adams was not recognized as his spouse, SCMP reports.

The CSB claimed it had acted “in line with the prevailing marriage law of Hong Kong” and was “safeguarding public order” by denying Adams spousal benefits, as doing so would “undermine the integrity of the institution of marriage”. (How, exactly, was not made clear.)

Judge Anderson Chow rejected the CSB’s argument, and said he couldn’t see how denying benefits to legally married homosexual couples would “not [undermine] the integrity of the institution of marriage in Hong Kong” or “protect the institution of the traditional family”. You took the words out of our mouths, Chow.

While Leung won his challenge against the CSB, Chow ruled in the IRD’s favor, as a provision in the Inland Revenue Ordinance states that marriage is between a man and a woman.

 


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